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Full text of "NightRider"

288

locality and in the woods. If they had a decent lead. But
they had to have a lead, because there, toward the crossroads,
the pike ran straight and the patch of country was open, and
now, momently it seemed to Mr. Munn as he raised his face
in the wind and looked fleetingly at the sky, the dim light
that seeped through the breaking clouds was increasing. But
it was not yet dawn. There ought to be more than two hours
till dawn, he figured.

Out of the tail of his eye he noticed that Mr. Simmons,
who rode beside him, was looking back. He looked back over
his shoulder. His men were no longer compactly together.
They were stringing out down the pike behind as the horses
failed the pace. "God damn it!" Mr. Munn said aloud,
" some of those plugs won't last to Bethany." No better than
plow horses, he thought disgustedly, irritably.

" This keeps up," Mr. Simmons was shouting at him, " and
they'll be taking some of the boys."

Mr. Munn shook his head.   "No," he denied, " not that."

"Better bushwhack Jem while we got a chance," the other
called. "We still got some cover here."

Mr. Munn glanced to one side of the pike. It was winding
here. Through brush and the black cedar thickets. That
paleness against the darkness of the thicket would be stone
wall. Limestone. Here was cover. Good cover, if they were
going to bushwhack. He shook his head. " No," he repeated,
not looking toward Mr. Simmons, but forward strainingly
toward the next turn in the pike as though his own intensity
might draw all the mass behind him, and himself, more
swiftly toward the security of that next bend, and the bend
beyond.

Beyond the turn, he again looked back. The men were
stringing out behind. Worse than before, he thought. And
in his mind he cursed the fools who were pursuing, fools who
had no part, no real interest, no concern, with the whole busi-
ness, idle, swaggering smart alecks, or fellows with some
miserable little job with the companies, hangers-on at the
depot, at the hotel, fools who stood on the street corners and